The Humanities and Fine Arts Division Has a New Interim Dean, Dr. Cheryl Edelson


Madison Choi

Dr. Edelson, English professor and interim dean of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division, hopes to better publicize the creative work of students and faculty.

Students and faculty from the Humanities and Fine Arts Division at Chaminade University of Honolulu have an abundance of accomplishments under their belt from this last school year. The spring production of “Into the Woods” was recognized by the theater community with seven awards, the artwork of students were showcased in two exhibits at the Sullivan Family Library, and students within the division took pride in participating in a variety of service projects.

New interim dean, Dr. Cheryl Edelson, will be making the publicizing of these achievements one of her priorities after taking over in mid-August.

After 12 years of serving Chaminade University students as an English professor, Edelson was named interim dean of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division in August. She will remain interim dean indefinitely until administration secures a permanent dean.

“I feel fortunate to move into this position at such an exciting time for Chaminade,” Edelson said.

Assuming her new role during a time of transition for the university, including the ushering in of President Lynn Babington, Edelson is determined to spark change on campus. Being a strong believer in liberal arts education, she hopes to promote the hard and creative work of the Humanities and Fine Arts students to the Chaminade community and the state of Hawaii at large.

Edelson began her time at Chaminade in 2005 as a professor in the English Department, teaching a variety of courses on topics such as American Literature, Film and Literature, Introduction to Motion Pictures, and others. A California native, she received each of her degrees from schools in her home state. Edelson has a Ph.D. and M.A. in English but received her B.S. in Anthropology.

She came into the position of interim dean after two years of serving as the English discipline coordinator alongside former dean, Dr. David Coleman. Once Coleman announced he was planning to step down from his role in order to focus his energy on his particular division, Religious Studies, she underwent the application process. Due to the support of her colleagues and their positive feedback to Chaminade University Provost Dr. Helen Whippy, Edelson was offered the position and officially began on Aug. 16.

Madison Choi
Edelson officially began her role as interim dean on Aug. 16.

“In so many ways, she represents the mission of Chaminade,” said Dr. Janet Davidson, associate provost of academic affairs. “She believes in justice and peace, she believes in adaptation for change, she really believes in the ability of education to transform people and she’s very genuine in those beliefs and just the power of education. I see that behind her drive. She really believes in what she does.”

Davidson and Edelson both began their time at Chaminade as associate professors in 2005 and have served on a variety of committees together.  

Edelson now has the unique opportunity to play a more integral role in all the Humanities and Fine Arts disciplines, ranging from International Studies to Environmental + Interior Design. She views her leadership over a broad range of subjects as a welcomed challenge.

“It’s very exciting to see the way that these different elements of our division serve all of our students but also are a huge part of the community, that’s been a really exciting thing,” Edelson said.

As dean of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division, her main responsibilities include scheduling, attending meetings conducted within each discipline, and evaluating and developing general education curricula. She also gets to show her support for the division by attending the dramatic and musical performances and art shows that showcase the talents of Chaminade faculty and students.

Edelson looks forward to supporting the creative endeavors of faculty within the division that also create opportunities for students. Fine Arts faculty members Walter Takeda and Yukio Ozaki organized the two art exhibits in the Sullivan Family Library during the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. The first semester, the artwork displayed were from students within the division, but the second exhibit was open to all students.

Edelson’s main goal as interim dean is to support her fellow faculty and staff, better publicize the work of the division, and celebrate the achievements of students, especially in the ways that they impact the community outside of Chaminade. Through service learning opportunities at locations including Palolo Elementary School, Kaimuki High School, and Hospice Hawaii, Humanities and Fine Arts students are able to use the skills they learn and practice at Chaminade to benefit others. 

“I feel really fortunate to be here at a place that not only values education, which we certainly do, but that really thinks about the whole person and the way that we are teaching students, not only the subjects in our classes, but to be citizens of the United States, citizens of Hawaii, citizens of the world, and to really contribute to that,” Edelson said.